Friday, April 9, 2021

US Strategic Competition with China: Implications for Africa

 Senators Robert Menendez (Democrat of New Jersey) and James Risch (Republican of Idaho) have introduced the "Strategic Competition Act of 2021," which is designed to counter China globally.  

The proposed legislation contains sections (271-276) on Sub-Sahara Africa that call for a series of actions by elements of the US government.  They include:

--A report that assesses the nature and impact of Chinese political, economic, and security sector activity in Africa, and its impact on US strategic interests;

--A report setting forth a multi-year strategy for increasing US economic competitiveness and promoting improvements in the investment climate in Africa, including through support for democratic institutions, the rule of law, improved transparency, anti-corruption, and governance;

--A review of the number of Foreign Commercial Officers and Department of State Economic Officers at US embassies in Sub-Sahara Africa;

--Establishment of an interagency working group to counter Chinese cyber aggression with respect to Africa;

--The commitment of resources to enhance the entrepreneurship and leadership skills of African youth with the objective of enhancing their ability to serve as leaders in the public and private sectors.  This will include the establishment of the Young African Leaders Initiative.  (This is a return to a key component of President Obama's Africa policy); and  

--A report by the US Agency for Global Media on the resources and timeline needed to establish an organization whose mission is to promote democratic values and institutions in Africa.

The Bill contains less detailed sections (281-282) for the Middle East and North Africa.

Comment:  While it is too soon to predict where this Bill is headed, it has bipartisan sponsorship.  It also deals with one of the major omissions of the Trump administration's efforts to counter China in Africa: no new proactive American programs except for the US International Development Finance Corporation.  The reports requested in this Bill are aimed at creating new programs and adding resources.  



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